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50 hit the stage for Largo's 'So You Think You Can Dance' competition

Nicole Osorio, 15, and Leah Longo, 17, peek at the crowd from backstage during the “So You Think You Can Dance” competition.


Nicole Osorio, 15, and Leah Longo, 17, peek at the crowd from backstage during the “So You Think You Can Dance” competition.

Backstage, the divas primped their 'dos as the guys buckled up their street-smart dance gear.

In a side room, youngsters in the Police Athletic All-Stars troupe triple checked their routine.

Inside the auditorium, friends and families watched ballerinas float across the floor as hip-hop dancers shuffled in high-speed from wall to wall.

In front of a standing-room-only crowd Sunday, more than 50 dancers aspiring to be the next Chris Brown or Christina Aquilera participated in the Largo Community Center's "So You Think You Can Dance,'' competition.

The program, part of the two-month Largo, HeART of Pinellas Festival, lasted three hours.

Memo to Fox Television: We know where you can find some dancers for your reality series. Pinellas County has some people who can shake things up.

Thirty-four entries, made up of individuals, couples and groups, vied for trophies and a cash prize of $100. The afternoon was filled with people tripping the light fantastic with dances of all sorts: ballroom, contemporary, hip-hop, tap and ballet.

Unlike Fox's So You Think You Can Dance, there were no eliminations. Instead, winners were given points based on technique, routine, presentation, music, costume and audience appeal.

The judges, sitting in the center of the room, included a trio from the University of South Florida Sun Dolls Dance Team (Lindsay Noble, Caitlin Cassady and Chelsea Sweet); and Arleen and James Norman of Savoy South Dance Hall and Right Step Dance Studio of St. Petersburg.

"As judges, we will have to be critical today,'' said Sweet, 20. "But I know in the long run, for those who want to pursue their dancing, the criticism helps.''

They performed before a crowd of 200, about 100 more than the city expected, said Craig Dolan, recreation program supervisor at Largo Community Center and coordinator for the event.

"I think an enjoyable time was had by all, and absolutely, there's some great talent in Pinellas County,'' Dolan said.

The grand prize went to the hip-hop troupe Goon Squad of the Studio Dance Co. of Clearwater. The team received a $100 cash prize.

fast facts

The winners

Here is a list of the winners in each dance category:

Ballroom dancing

Sevran Szapiaczan and Dana Seim, Arthur Murray Studio, Clearwater.

Contemporary, Individual

15 and up: Carolina Sarmento, Patricia Ann Dance Studio, Dunedin.

10-14: Dana Harris, STEPS School of Dance, Clearwater.

Contemporary, Group

16 and up: Tutterow Dancers, Largo.

15 and under: Suncoast Academy of Dance, Palm Harbor.

Hip-Hop, Group

16 and up: Goon Squad, the Studio Dance Co., Clearwater.

15 and under: Street Team, the Studio Dance Co.

9 and under: Little Dippers from Police Athletic League, Largo.


Individual: Greg Cyr, Patricia Ann Dance Studio

Group: Suncoast Academy of Dance.

What's next

The next event for the ongoing Largo, HeART of Pinellas Festival is the Festival of the Arts, an art and floral competition. It will be from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Feb. 27 and 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Feb. 28. Admittance is free, however, donations will benefit the Florida Youth Ranch Art Program. Call (727) 518-3131.

50 hit the stage for Largo's 'So You Think You Can Dance' competition 02/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 7:20pm]
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